A moment silence is observed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month because that is when the guns went silent for the armistice that ended World War I. I observe this ritual. I commend it to you.
This day is Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans Day. The silence should resound throughout the countries who observe it under those different names.
I first posted what follows below on 11/11/2008. I don’t know if I can do much better, so here it is again. The changes I would make are to shorten it a bit and to put Terry Kelly’s song at the top.
There, I did.
Please read the story about why the song was written and then listen to it. Then, if you want, come back and read the rest of this post…
The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month – A Pittance of Time reprise
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
If we do not remember those who gave their lives to preserve our way of life, we are likely to lose that way of life by the worst possible means – the habit of thinking things had to be the way they are and not some other way. This lesson is not buried in some dusty tome; our grandparents know better. How could we forget?
Some of us understand that things are the way they are because some soldiers were – and are – so committed to liberty as to give their own lives in its defense. Sadly, the vast majority of us do not seem committed to remember this debt.
There is encouragement for this amnesia. We have many enemies, and putative friends, who desire that we forget past courage and honor. They desire that the remembrance of the justice of the causes of the past should slip away. They view even their own immediate ancestors – who rose to meet challenges of personal and cultural annihilation – as quaint throwbacks to an unenlightened age.
These enemies and self-declared friends are wrong. We must reject their idea that our enemies are simply people we haven’t yet had the intelligence to recognize as our moral equivalents.
Remember Ypres, Belleau Wood and Dieppe. Do not forget Iwo Jima or The Bulge or the Chosen Reservoir or Khe Sanh.
And Khe Sanh is a good example of how an agenda of defeat twists logic: At Khe Sanh 205 Americans were killed, while the North Vietnamese lost between ten and fifteen thousand. The Western press portrayed Khe San as a defeat. Like Tet. Do not forget Tet, where Walter Cronkite surrendered, on our behalf, following our resounding victory.
Our enemies had these “victories” because, while our soldiers were annihilating them, we lost heart. We should certainly remember that.
What we remember will affect what we think. The ritual denigration of the US military continues to affect Associated Press headlines 40 years after Tet, as observed by TOC.
If Veterans day is not an event that counters this defeatism, where will we find the will to win the war against Islamofascism? Respect for those who gave their lives on our behalf LAST WEEK is as necessary as respect for those who died in the Civil War and WWI and WWII and Korea and Viet Nam.
Without our continuing consciousness of their effort, those who have died and those who die tomorrow on behalf of our present freedom, are literally dust. You must not let that happen. They died for their homes and families and friends, and for a rule of law and traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for you.
This truth was not a question until latter half of the 20th Century.
In 1915 John McCrae, a Canadian Army doctor, wrote In Flanders Fields, about the horrors he saw in the Ypres salient.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
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